Introduction: Xena's Chakram
I couldn’t believe I almost made it all the way through grad school without making something from my favorite childhood show! This was a fun, playful project, with some intermediate level metalworking/ welding and craft elements.
DISCLAIMER: THIS OBJECT IS FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY!
- 3/8" steel rod (at least 2 ft. but 3 ft. will make bending it Much easier)
- 18 ga. plate steel
- gun metal blue
- turquoise rhinestones
- 5 min. epoxy or similar adhesive
- gold leaf supplies
- 3/4" plywood (for making your circle jig)
- screws or pneumatic staples
- screw gun or pneumatic stapler setup
- bolt cutter
- metal cutting band saw
- angle grinder with grinding wheel, flap disc, buffing attachments
- dremel with carbide bit
Step 1: Preparing Your Template
The first thing I did was find an image that indicated the correct scale of the chakram and printed out several copies to have on hand throughout the process. According to the infographic for this prop replica, the inner diameter of the chakram is 7-1/2."
Use a layout program like Photoshop or Gimp or use a photocopy machine to resize your image to the size you want your chakram. The specificity of this measurement is not important, just the consistency of whatever measurement you choose. Be sure to print multiple copies of both sides of the chakram's design at the scale you wish to make your object because you will be cutting them up later.
Step 2: Making Your Jig
Xena's chakram is thick on the inside and tapers to a "sharp" edge, so I used 3/16" steel rod to achieve that thickness.
In order to make the rod a perfect circle you will need a jig. Cut a 7-1/2" diameter circle (or whatever the inner diameter of your printed image is) out of 3/4" plywood. Secure it to another plywood plate that is a few inches larger than your circle. Screw or staple jig blocks around the perimeter of your circle, using a 3/16" spacer to ensure there is enough room for your steel rod to slip in between the circle and the jig blocks. You want the rod to fit snugly but not too tightly.
TIP: It may take some pre-planning, but be sure when placing your jig blocks that there is enough space to fit clamps between them.
Step 3: Using Your Jig
3/16" rod is just thin enough to cold bend with a jig. You will want the rod to be longer than the circumference of your chakram so you can get good leverage for bending. Place one end of the rod in between a jig block and the circle and work it all the way around. It will spiral slightly by nature of the process, so it may take some finessing to get the shape to your liking using any combination of vices and clamps. I took the rod circle on and off the jig and moved it around several times throughout the process. When you are satisfied, use a sharpie to mark where the two ends overlap, and cut the rod with whatever method you have available (bolt cutters, a metal cutting bandsaw, or a dremel with a cut-off wheel are all viable options).
When returning your circle to the jig, be sure to position it so you have access to the seam for welding. Use a steel bar clamp to both keep the ring aligned the way you want it, and as as a useful location to clamp the ground cable. Weld the seam.
Step 4: Patterning & Cutting the Circle Pieces
Cut out one of your printed chakram images. fold it into quadrants. Even out any discrepancies in the pattern. When you are satisfied, trace this 1/4 circle pattern 8 times onto your 18 gauge sheet steel.
NOTE: It may be possible to do this project using halves instead of quarters, or possibly even as a whole circle. I chose to do quadrants both because of material availability and because it allowed the sheet steel to "rest" into a natural slope from the thick inner circle to the pointed outer circle. If you want to try to reduce the amount of welding, you could try and do it in halves instead of quadrants.
Using clamps, secure the sheet steel to your ring and tack weld the sheet steel pieces to the ring and each other.
Step 5: Welding the Chakram
The rest of the project is pretty much just a back and forth exercise of tack welding and grinding until your ring and sheet steel pieces look like they are 1 object. You may have to adjust your welder settings to not blow through your thin sheet steel and you should bounce around where you place your welds to avoid overheating.
Step 6: Making It Pretty
Through use of a combination of grinders, flap wheels, sanders, and buffers, smooth and shine your chakram until you can see your badass face in it.
Step 7: Laying Out the Designs
Go back to your paper pattern, cut out each design, and trace it with a sharpie onto your steel project.
You should be able to get away with cutting out just a portion of the pattern rather than spending a lot of time trying to cut out the whole thing. I recommend at least 3 segments to ensure proper alignment.
Step 8: Engraving the Design
Using a tungsten carbide cutting bit chucked into a dremel, carefully engrave your sharpied design.
Rebuff your chakram after your done engraving to make sure it is hand safe. Be sure to clean and de-grease your object before using the gunmetal bluing.
Follow the directions on your bottle of your PermaBlue to darken the recess of your engraving. I used a Q-tip to direct the liquid into the recess with more accuracy.
Step 9: The Embellishments
Gather your turquoise rhinestones (you will need 18) and 5 minute epoxy. Mix your epoxy thoroughly, and using a toothpick, apply the glue to your gems and affix them in the center of each design element. These get attached first so the adhesive is reliable.
Next, consult the direction of your gold leafing supplies. Generally it involves brushing on a liquid type adhesive, and waiting for it to get tacky to the touch. Be careful to avoid getting glue on your rhinestones! When the glue is ready, lay your gold leaf sheets down, and peel away any portions that are unnecessary. They can be saved and used again. Use a soft cloth to burnish the gold leaf. Lastly, put a coat of acrylicsealer over the gold leaf to protect it, oil your steel so it doesn't rust, and enjoy!
Participated in the